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Harry Potter series (1997-2008)

By J.K. Rowling

Scholastic Corporation and Bloomsbury Publishing


Nursing rating 4 stars

Rating guide:
excellent = 4 stars;
good = 3 stars;
fair = 2 stars,
poor = 1 star

Artistic rating 4 stars

Nurses in the Strangest Places

Who knew? I was only looking for a fun read, but what I discovered was a new nurse hero in literature. Her name is Madam Poppy Pomfrey, and she exists in all the Harry Potter novels. It was quite a surprise to me, really, for no one had mentioned a nurse in these extremely popular childrens' books, but there she is. I'm especially excited about this discovery because these books were written for children, and what a treat to find a nurse playing such an important role!

Madam Pomfrey is in charge of the hospital at Hogwarts, the school of wizardy and magic that Harry attends. Not only is Madam Pomfrey in charge of all the health care, but I was quite surprised to find that there is no mention of a doctor in any of the 6 Harry Potter books I've read so far. Whenever something goes wrong with anyone's health at Hogwarts, the same thing is said: "Get Madam Pomfrey!" The general feeling is that Madam Pomfrey can do anything. What can she do? Well, so far in these books (and this is not an exhaustive list of her accomplishments), she has known how to:

  • re-grow all the bones in Harry's arm (mistakenly removed with a curse-gone-bad),
  • cured Harry's friend Ron from a dragon bite,
  • treated Harry's friend Hermione after a spell turned her into a cat,
  • mixed a special "pepperup potion" to cure colds,
  • healed Harry after he fell 50 feet off a flying broom,
  • changed Hermione's teeth back to normal size when they grew to gigantic proportions,
  • treated the student Alicia when a curse made her eyebrows grow so much that they obscured her vision, and
  • restored Professor Moody to health after he had been locked in a trunk for months.

No matter the health problem, both students and professors consistently say "It will be all right once Madam Pomfrey gets here."

This is of interest to me because I have long been concerned about who is talking to young children about nursing. When I was a child, there were the Nurse Nancy books (complete with Band-Aids in the back of the book) to inspire me. Okay, maybe it was her cool cap which first caught my eye, but inspiration is inspiration, right? Where are the children's books which could motivate young people to become nurses today? I can tell you -- practically nonexistent. The Cherry Ames series of books for preteen and teens about a nurse solving crimes has recently been revived, but the stories were written between 1943-1968. Where are the books for today's preteen or teenager? Madam Pomfrey is a breath of fresh air, and a welcome addition to the world of literature. I am thrilled that a nurse (identified as a "nurse" consistently in the books) has such a prominent role in these books, and that she is so very well respected. Madam Pomfrey, the fictional nurse who exists at Hogwarts School for Wizards, is a new role model for young people. She can do anything, and she works independently!

Children of all ages need to read books about nurses and about nursing to help them understand what a great profession it is, and to inspire them to join our us. Very young children need to have books with great nurse characters read to them. Where will these books come from? I hope they will come from some of you. I bet there are many of you out there who could write such books. Nurses can be found in the strangest places, even in a school for wizards, doing the greatest things. Let's tell children all about us!


Review by Margaret Comerford Freda, EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN,
Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center
Editor, MCN The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing

Originally published in the The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing in July 2006. Reprinted with permission from Dr. Freda.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board Members or Advisory Panel of The Truth About Nursing.


Full citation: Freda MC. (2006). Nurses in the Strangest Places. MCN The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing 31(4): 214.


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